Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

every side.

dark clouds, charged with sulphur and electric fire, ever ready to burst over it; while beneath it was the pit of hell: ånd behold, from time to time, loud thunders rolled and vivid lightnings flashed on

Moreover, the earth quaked and trembled; and sometimes flames broke forth from beneath, licking up such of the inhabitants as were exposed to them. I saw, too, that the city was liable to noxious damps and tremendous hurricanes; so that it appeared to be a dwelling-place exceedingly undesirable and miserably inconvenient. Then was I minded to see what manner of men lived in this city: and behold, when I looked into the streets, I saw that they were thronged with persons of every nation under heaven. And lo! the wickedness of the men of the city was very great, and the streets were filled with violence: (Gen. vi.) their mouths were full of cursing, deceit, and fraud; and under their tongues was mischief and vanity. (Psalm x. 7.) I saw, also, that all the inhabitants of this city, small and great, were smitten with a very sore leprosy, insomuch that, from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there was no soundness in them; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: (Isaiah i. 6.) all were abominable, and altogether filthy, there being none good, no, not one. (Psalm xiv. 3.)

Now, what most surprised me was this, that the greater part of these people appeared to be utterly unconscious of their own unclean and abominable state, although they often expressed disgust at the wounds and sores of their acquaintance. Hence, the mass of the people followed their business and their pleasures, without seeking any remedy for their diseases: for, believing themselves to be whole, they sought not a physician; (Matt. ix. 12.) neither did they mollify or bind up their wo ds, regardless of the plague in their own bodies, and

little heeding the fate of their fellow-creatures, many of whom were hourly perishing before their eyes, in a great variety of ways; thus verifying the words of Solomon the king, Madness is in the hearts of the sons of men while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (Eccles. ix. 3.)

Some few persons, however, there were in the city, who seemed to be sensible of their unhappy state. For, as the Christian Scriptures testify, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,

who hold the truth in unrighteousness: because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his own eternal power and Godhead: so that those men who forget God are without excuse. (Rom. i. 18—20.)

These persons, having some perception of their own foul and abominable condition, and feeling themselves liable to the wrath of God, and fit only, in the world to come, to receive their portion with sinners, formed many devices by which they hoped to purify themselves, and to make atonement for their sins. They built themselves high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree, (1 Kings xiv. 23.) until their city was full of idols. Thus, they worshipped the works of their own hands, that which their own fingers had made. (Isaiah ii. 8.) They sacrificed in gardens, and burnt incense on altars of brick. (Isaiah lxv. 3.) Moreover, they worshipped the host of heaven, the sun, the moon, and the stars; nay, they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things; (Rom. i. 23.) not aware that the objects

[ocr errors]

of their adoration were devils, and not the mighty God. Perceiving also the need of an atonement, and having a secret consciousness that without shedding of blood is no remission, (Heb. ix. 22.) they poured out the blood of thousands of rams and lambs, of bullocks and goats, upon their altars; neither did they spare their own children, but slew them before their gods; not considering, that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin ; (Heb. x. 4.) nor yet the blood of the sinful sons of men: for our children, being born according to the ordinary course of nature, and from parents of whom cometh no good thing, can never supply a sacrifice without spot or blemish, such as a holy God must needs require when he seeks a substitute for the sinner.

I saw likewise, in my dream, that, on account of the impious sacrifices and vile idolatries of these people, their foolish hearts became darkened; that they entirely lost the knowledge of the living and true God. Moreover, being led by Satan, they ordained many washings and needless ceremonies; they cut themselves with knives and lancets, undergoing various cruel penances and horrible privations, if so be that an atonement might be thereby made for their sins.

Now, while I looked on all these things, behold, one came to me from above, and her name was Wisdom; and thus she spake unto me:

That mighty city which is now before thee is called, the City of the Wrath of God; and the valley in which it stands is called Destruction, It is the natural birth-place of all mankind; and they that continue to abide therein are called the children of wrath. (Eph. ii. 3.) The Evil One is the prince of that city, and the inhabitants thereof are his servants and his children.”

“ And

Then would I know of her that spake unto me, how it came to pass, that all mankind had fallen into so grievous a condition, every one being tainted with an exceeding foul and horrible leprosy, rendering them universally subject unto death and corruption in the grave.

So she opened a book, which she held in her hand; the title of which was, The Scriptures of Truth. And from thence she unfolded to me the history of the creation of man, by the word of God; how man was formed in perfect holiness, and placed in a situation of perfect happiness; and how, by the suggestion of the Evil One, he was led to rebel against God, thereby bringing sin, which is spiritual death, and corruption, which is temporal death, upon all the human race. thus,” said she, is the habitation of man, at the formation of which the morning-stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, (Job xxxvïi. 7.) became polluted with sin, which, like a foul and abominable leprosy, hath tainted all mankind, descending from the fathers to the children, to countless generations." Then said I, “ Is there no way

to escape

from this dwelling-place of the wrath of God Will no one take pity on the sons of men? Is there no one to bind up or mollify their wounds ? Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?(Jer. viii. 22.)

But behold, while I spake, she that was before with me disappeared from my sight, and left me to continue my dream by myself. So, being alone, I looked again towards the city; and behold, I marked a man who lived very sumptuously therein, and was one of great note in that part of the city in which he resided. The name of this man was Goonah Purist; being so called, because his sins had entire dominion over him. (Romans vi. 14.)

This man had large possessions in the city; to wit, many noble houses, and gardens, and pools of water, and orchards full of all trees which are beautiful to the sight, and bearing all manner of fruit: he had servants and maidens, and great possessions of cattle, and much silver and gold, and men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and those of all sorts; so that he was greatly increased above many in the city. (Eccles. ii.) And behold, he carried himself haughtily, oppressmg tlie fatherless and the widow, and the treasures of wickedness were in his house. (Micah vi. 10.)

Now this man, notwithstanding he carried himself so proudly, was a leper from head to foot; so that, although his outward garments were rich and beautiful, his hair powdered with the dust of the motha root, and his body anointed with fragrant oil, and oter of roses, yet he was a very vile and loathsome object, by reason of the plague of the leprosy within his skin. Nevertheless he seemed, like many others in the city, to be totally unconscious of the loathsome disease, which pervaded his whole body; nay, he absolutely denied that he had

any such complaint, and was mightily offended, if any one presumed to hint such a thing, or to recommend to him any remedy: not that he was by any means blind to the symptoms of this disease in his neighbours, or failed to manifest an extraordinary disgust to it, when it appeared in persons who were not of his kindred or party in the city. For in that place all were infected with the same disease, though not all in an equally odious form.

Now it came to pass, that while I looked at this man, and enquired, within myself, how such a one could be saved? or how he might even be awakened to a sense of his unhappy situation? it pleased the Lord to afflict his house with many sore judg

« ForrigeFortsett »